U.S. Wind Industry Finds Support for Clean Energy Future

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CHICAGO, Illinois, May 6, 2009 (ENS) – A new public opinion poll shows strong bipartisan support for a national Renewable Energy Standard requiring utilities to generate at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025

The poll was released Tuesday as the wind energy industry gathered in the Windy City for the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2009 Conference and Exhibition. For these 18,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors renewable energy means wind.

“The American people support a Renewable Electricity Standard because it will create jobs and reduce carbon emissions. Our job now is to make sure that members of Congress follow their constituents,” said American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode.

The poll, conducted by Garin Hart Yang Research Group, found that 75 percent of voters favor the Renewable Energy Standard proposal requiring electric utility companies across the nation to generate at least 25 percent of their electricity through renewable energy sources by 2025, and that support is deep.

A 53 percent majority strongly favors a national Renewable Electricity Standard, dwarfing the 16 percent of respondents who oppose it either “strongly” or “somewhat.”

The Renewable Electricity Standard draws bipartisan support, the pollsters found, with 86 percent of Democrats in favor of the proposal, 71 percent of independents and 62 percent of Republicans.

In addition, instituting a national Renewable Electricity Standard garners strong support across the country, ranging from 84 percent positive in the Northeast, 75 percent support in the Midwest and West, and 71 percent support in the South.

Chairing a panel discussion of Midwestern governors at the conference, Iowa Governor Chet Culver called on Congress and the Obama-Biden administration to pass a national Renewable Energy Standard in order to open markets for Midwestern wind energy projects and to ensure the long-term growth of the wind industry nationwide.

Governor Culver was joined by Governors Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Ted Strickland of Ohio, and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, all Democrats.

“As Co-Chair of the Governors’ Wind Coalition, I am excited about President Obama’s leadership and vision for our nation’s energy independence, and I ask our federal partners to take a major step forward by passing a federal Renewable Energy Standard,” said Governor Culver.

“As governors, we are committed to helping open markets for companies investing in our states, putting people back to work by creating good, green-collar jobs, and rebuilding our national economy by taking advantages of the opportunities of renewable energy.”

Iowa recently surpassed California to rank second nationally in current wind generation output with nearly 2,900 megawatts generated by 2,056 turbines across the state. It is estimated Iowa will generate 15 percent of its electricity from wind energy in 2009, which would lead the nation.

“Michigan’s most urgent need right now is jobs, and our greatest opportunity to bring jobs and investment to Michigan is to capitalize on our momentum in the alternative energy industry,” Governor Granholm said. “My economic team and I are pitching Michigan to the top wind energy leaders in the world, letting them know that Michigan’s economic incentives, world class workforce, and manufacturing expertise make us the best spot in the nation to locate their companies.”

To expedite production of renewable energy on public lands while protecting land, water, and wildlife, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told WINDPOWER 2009 attendees that his department will create four Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, one each in California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Arizona, along with smaller renewable energy teams in New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Oregon.

The renewable energy offices and teams will cut red tape by expediting applications, processing, reviews and permitting of renewable energy projects.

They are one of several initiatives President Barack Obama has taken in his first 100 days “to open our doors to wise, responsible renewable energy production on our public lands,” Salazar said.

Interior is investing $41 million through the President’s economic recovery plan to facilitate a “rapid and responsible move” to large-scale production of renewables on Bureau of Land Management land, the secretary said.

“At no time in our history has the need for a new energy policy been so urgent,” Salazar said. “We import more than two-thirds of our oil, costing us hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Unemployment is at eight and a half percent. Carbon emissions are rising. Our national security is threatened. And countries like China and India are ready to cash in by leading the global clean energy economy.”

“We must lead the clean energy revolution,” Salazar said. “With millions of new jobs at stake, this is an opportunity America can’t afford to miss.”

If the nation fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, Salazar estimated, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of U.S. domestic electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process.

Salazar estimated that of the wind projects currently proposed on Bureau of Land Management lands, almost 1,400 megawatts of new capacity will be ready for construction by the end of 2010 – enough to power more than 400,000 homes.

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